Maintaining Echinacea

I tried growing Echinacea in my patio area and they seemed to take off quite nicely, but knowing nothing about them, I left them alone to do their own thing.
I read somewhere about deadheading them, but didn't do that as I am not familiar with the practice.
So right now I have the plants in my little plot, looking perfectly dead and wondering if they will come back in the spring or did my ignorance turn what should have been a perennial into an annual? How do echinaceas seed and grow - by the flowers, like marigolds, or some other mechanism?
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Where do you live?
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

Even in California, my Echinacea are totally dead-looking right now, and they will come back strongly in a couple of months. If you're planting it in a colder climate, it may take longer, but they will come back.
Echinacea has a rhizome and spreads out bigger and stronger every year, after dying back in the fall. You can also grow it very easily from the seeds that are in the "cone" that remains when the flowers die out.
Paulo
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Okay, that's certainly reassuring. I was about to clip off the dead flowers but wasn't sure what effect that would have on them. I was also going to pull weeds from around them, but not knowing what an echinacea looks like when just starting out I didn't want to take the wrong thing. It's been rather warm and wet here (Seattle) lately and the weeds are coming out in force. I wanted to tag them before they had a chance to establish, and since I have the day off I can do it at my leisure.
I made the mistake of buying compost from a landscaping yard that apparently doesn't filter their soil very well - I have more weeds growing up than I know what to do with.
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But hang on a moment. Leave the flowers in place if you want them to produce seeds. On the other hand, if you want the largest number of flowers for ornamental reasons, you need to deadhead the faded ones. A google search using the words "deadhead echinacea" will produce 4890 results. You won't need to go any further than the first page of results to learn more.
By the way, the plant is a perennial, so unless you kill it somehow, it'll come back each year after its dormant period. Without knowing where you live, nobody can tell you any more about the nature of that dormancy period in your specific garden.
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Eigenvector wrote:

[...]
Right, the flowers are probably brown and dry by now, and full of seeds. You can clip them off and save the seeds or spread them around if you want your garden covered with them.
The new leaves coming from the old plant with be strong and big and unmistakable. The first leaf from one growing from seed is dark green and heart-shaped, anything else is a weed :)
Paulo
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Excellent, thank you very much for clearing that up.
Now that I know what I'm looking for I can pull the weeds and crush the flowers and spread the seeds.
I ID's the weeds too. Catnip and Galium Aparine, that stuff is EVERYWHERE in my garden. This very group warned me a year or so back about growing catnip in my herb garden but did I listen - Noooooo. Oh well I guess I know what I'll be doing this spring.
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The tool on the right is the best thing in the world for murdering weeds. Buy one.
http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m21/kg8da/a06c38f8.jpg
It's called a goose neck weeder. A google search should turn up some sources.
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I have a field full of it and the plants die back in the winter. They do produce seed.
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I live in zone 5, and I do not dead head my flowers when they are in the last bloom before frost. Of course, I dead head through the growing season to encourage more blooms. I leave the seed heads on the plants and the birds have a heyday during the winter feeding on the seeds. We had some birds traveling through last week, and the yard was full of various birds feeding. In a month or more from now we will have some warm days and I will go out and cut the Echinacea, mums, butterfly bush, monarda, etc. back to the ground. I will then cover them with mulch and they will start poking through in late April to early May. Echinacea are very hardy and will spread with time.
Dale P
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Eigenvector;774103 Wrote: > I tried growing Echinacea in my patio area and they seemed to take off > quite

> own

I grow many Echinacea because they're one of my favourite summer plants. I do not grow them in pots for fear of our UK winter cold/wet combo killing them off, as pots left outside do hold far more moisture than is good for a plant in winter. That said, if they are in pots they can easily be put under cover somewhere or an old wheel barrow put over them during the worst winter weather without harm.
Cut the flowers down after flowering and leave alone until the foliage eventually dies back, then clear away the debris. You should have just the dried flower stalks on the surface. Then you just have to be patient for April to arrive.
If you doubt their survival. Just tip the pot out and check the roots. White firm ones are healthy. Dark sludgey ones are not, remove. This quick check works with most plants and can save you a lot of wondering. . . Giving more time for you to obtain their replacement.
--
Winsford


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